Washington D.C. (September 9, 2020) – Today at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Annual Meeting, six organizations and individuals were honored by their peers as recipients of the Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources.  The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award was established in 2016 to recognize exemplary leadership in the field of climate adaptation and the protection of the Nation’s vital natural resources and the people who depend on them in a changing world.

Recipients were selected from 20 nominations representing individuals and federal, tribal, state, local, and non‐governmental organizations from around the country.

The six awardees are:

  • Federal Category Matt Whitbeck, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist, Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex
  • State or Local Category Climate Adapted Culverts Project Team, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington
  • Tribal Category Office of Environmental Resource Management and the Communications Team, United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc.
  • Nongovernmental Category Adaptive Reefscapes, Coral Reef Alliance
  • Broad Partnerships Category Sea-Level Rise Resilience, Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative
  • Individual Achievement Category Cat Hawkins Hoffman, National Park Service Climate Change Response Program

Read more about the awardees and Honorable Mentions here.

“Climate change poses growing risks to our Nation’s valuable fish and wildlife resources and the many people, businesses and communities that depend on them,” stated Kelly Hepler, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks. “This year’s awardees have done outstanding work to help safeguard species, habitats, and communities in a changing world, and we are thrilled to recognize their efforts.”

Our Nation’s natural resources provide essential benefits to Americans every day, including jobs, income, food, clean water and air, building materials, storm protection, tourism and recreation. Hunting, fishing and other wildlife‐related recreation contribute an estimated $120 billion to our economy every year, and marine ecosystems sustain a U.S. seafood industry that supports more than 1.8 million jobs and creates $214 billion in economic activity annually.

This Award is sponsored and guided by the Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards Steering Committee which is made up of representatives from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and various Federal agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For more information about the 2020 Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards for Natural Resources, including the recipients and honorable mentions, please visit the Awards website.

For more information please contact Maggie Ernest Johnson at mjohnson@fishwildlife.org or 202-838-3464.

The Award recognizes outstanding efforts to advance adaptation of fish, wildlife and plants as called for in the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, a unified nationwide effort reflecting shared principles and science-based practices for addressing the threats of a changing climate on fish, wildlife, plants, and the natural systems upon which they depend. 


The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.